Review of Neon Dream by Joshua J. Biere of the Madison Symphony Orchestra in the International Tuba Euphonium Association Journal (2021)
Ian Lester's latest contribution to the repertoire is an undeniably fun, entertaining, virtuosic showpiece. It is a relatively short five-minute work centered around the ambiance and action of a laser tag arena. The backing track consists mostly of driving electronic drum beats as well as synth bass and keyboard sounds, and it absolutely captures the desired aesthetic. Divided into six parts with titles like "The Enemy Has Been Hit!" and "First Shot Fired!" Neon Dream offers an emotive retro groove centered around a rather athletic euphonium part. The opening parts feature driving rhythms with fast moving arpeggiated patterns and an accompaniment that certainly helps keep the energy and groove. Lester also offers a chance for the soloist to show a bit of lyricism in the middle section of his work, "Deactivated!" which features long ornamented solo lines accompanied by long synth arpeggiated organ sounds. The action quickly returns, however, in "The Final Push!" with the reintroduction of the synth bass and driving groove to close out the piece with a virtuosic flourish.
The work itself is not overly complicated-the melodies are catchy and easy to hear and would be well-received by most audiences. However, the writing is very demanding in terms of the agility and technique of the soloist. With an expansive range of E to f2, Neon Dream demands a firm grasp on extended registers and rapid articulations. The effective performer would need to have a developed sense of groove and rhythm, as well as a good amount of agility to navigate some very quick and large leaps at moderately fast tempi. This piece would be excellent for a program designed for young people, or for a performer looking for their first experience with fixed media. It would also make a very fun closing showpiece for a recital that needs to limit its participants to single performer in the current pandemic. The composer offers a recording available for perusal on his website, www.ianlestermusic.com.
TubaTalk Zoom Interview with Taylor Hicks on topics of composing, commissions, competitions and performance (2021)
Ian selected as the winner of the Mirari Brass Call for Scores $1,000 prize for his composition "Three Episodes for Brass Quintet" (2021)
Review of Sonata for Tuba 'Hades God of the Underworld' by Dr. Chris Combest in the International Tuba Euphonium Association Journal (2018)
"In particular, Ian Lester's Hades God of the Underworld demonstrates an excellent mix of tonal vocabulary that works very well on the bass tuba. This work was the winner of the 2017 U.S. Army Band Tuba-Euphonium Workshop composition contest and features four movements - I. Hades Rising, II. The Unseen One, III. Dance of the Dead and IV. Wrath of Hades. A stylistic change characterizes each movement that both Darling and pianist Tanaka capture distinctly, and the adaption for bass tuba (original for contrabass tuba) comes across as very thoughtful and concise." -Dr. Chris Combest
Oakland University News: "SMTD alumni pursue dreams at prestigious graduate schools" (2018)